Thrilled to receive my first cheque from royalties in America I trotted off to the branch of my bank, which shall remain anonymous, for reasons which will become obvious.
A great fuss and fluttering of feathers greeted my physically large cheque made out to a modest quantity of dollars.
The counter lady, whose deep orange tan and spikey hair with even spikier long scarlet nails, reminded me of Malificent of Disney fame, and was pretty scary. She looked down her long nose at me, over her winged specs, with great disapproval.
\”This will have to be given Special Treatment,\” she intoned, shaking her head from side to side with great solemnity. \”And it won\’t be quick.\”
She turned to the younger counter slave, and said, \”We\’ll have to get out The Box File.\”
The younger woman looked at me in grave sympathy. I felt a considerable amount for her. At least I could walk away soon. Soon? Hah!
As promised, the whole exchange took a long time – at least a quarter of an hour – which pleased the people in the gathering queues behind me no end.
The Box File was duly dragged out from the nether regions and dusted off. The coughing and sneezing that ensued was nothing compared to the heavy sighs emanating from the Assistant Manager\’s ruby-red lipsticked mouth.
A long red talon flicked the pages and then pointed down the page as the rules were read out to me. \”You do understand the implication of this, don\’t you?\”
I wasn\’t going to argue with her. \”Of course,\” I said, hopping from one foot to another.
\”You will have to sign this form, saying that you accept the consequences of submitting A Foreign Cheque.\”
I grabbed the nearest biro, all too aware of the numerous pairs of eyes boring into my back.
\”You must read it ALL before you sign!\”
I scanned the tiny print, once I\’d found my reading glasses at the bottom of my bag.
\”Are you SURE you\’ve read it THOROUGHLY?\”
I nodded, mute with embarrassment, and did my best authorly signature at the bottom of the page, hoping that would conclude the transaction.
Another sigh rippled past the glossy lips. \”Now, I will have to photocopy this. You have to have a copy too. Of course, that means I shall to go UPSTAIRS!\”
An audible hiss hit my back and my palms sprung leaks. Luckily, as soon as The Assistant Manager let herself out from behind the bullet proof glass with a great deal of key jangling and, at the speed of the slowest sloth on the planet, put one foot, sticky like treacle, on the first tread of the stairs in the bank lobby, her young assistant unleashed the blind on the next counter with a snap, and started serving the other customers. I found the clock, which faced away from the lengthy queue, now side by side to me, fascinating all of a sudden, and watched the seconds plonk slowly round its circular face with intense concentration.
A long time later, a measured stilletto\’d tread could be heard descending the stairs, one by one. The Assistant Manager unlocked the counter door and returned to face me, her hair gel unruffled, and not a bit out of breath. This was a woman who kept her poise, no matter how annoying the clients were, flashing their foreign cheques about the place.
Her long fingertips were licked in order to separate the sheaf of papers deemed necessary for this momentous occasion and the pages separated out, one by one. A pile for me, a pile for the bank. I hoped it was over. I felt I\’d sinned enough, but no – another boxfile was unearthed. This one was full of envelopes.
\”It will have to be sent in a Special Envelope to Head Office!\”
\”Okay,\” I said.
\”And you can forget it clearing in five working days – it will take that just to get there! You need to allow at least ten!\”
\”As long as it\’s paid in, and safe in your hands,\” I said.
\”It should be, but you never know with The Post.\”
\”Are we done then?\” I asked.
Reluctantly, she agreed we were, but her parting shot was, \”This is all very old-fashioned you know, you need to get paid electronically by http://www.amazon.com.\”
I left, trying not to shout for joy on my release from the glaring eyes of the other customers.
How was I to know that amazon hadn\’t given the full amount and that I would be there again next week?
On my arrival the second time, my heart sank to my boots, when I saw that Malificent was on duty again, but with a different young trainee. She turned to her colleague, and said, when I handed her my precious royalty cheque, of which I had been so proud, \”Oh, it\’s HER again. She\’s done this before.\”
When I got home, I went straight to my Amazon bookshelf and ticked the electronic payment box.
I\’ve heard about the price of success but never understood the implications until now.
Oh, and each transaction cost me over £8! That\’s nearly $20!!!